"We have been involved in [The Salvation Army], both of us, since we were born," said Lt. Michelle Wilson about her and her husband, Lee. "We have a family history of involvement with The Salvation Army. My husband goes back six generations in The Salvation Army and I go back five. So [we have] a great family legacy of work with The Salvation Army. As far as our history as Salvation Army officers, we were commissioned as Salvation Army officers in 2009. And we were stationed in Augusta, Ga., as the corps officers there for The Salvation Army and we were there two and a half years.
"Then now we have been appointed to serve as the leaders here in Cartersville as the corps officers. ... I think one of the great things about being a Salvation Army officer is that not one day looks like the next. There are such varied opportunities of ministry, whether you're working with a child through a character-building program or you're meeting the needs of a social services client with a food box or you're out in the community working with civic leaders, there's just such a varied background with The Salvation Army of the many folks that you get to reach and touch on a daily basis through the ministry of The Salvation Army. And that's what makes it exciting is that you just have so many areas that you can work in and be involved in all under the umbrella of one ministry."
Succeeding Majs. John and Nancy Fuller, who served four and a half years in Bartow, the Wilsons are guiding the Cartersville office, which provided social services -- food and financial assistance with utility bills, medications and rent -- to 3,055 individuals in 2011. The lieutenants are joining the Cartersville Corps during a time of restructuring, with the nonprofit's thrift store -- due to a sluggish economy -- being temporarily closed Jan. 31 and its social services operations returning to its location at 16 Felton Place.
"We've kind of established three aims, if you will, for our time here that we're going to be working on in the next year," Wilson said. "And one of those is exercising sound stewardship. A lot of that is wrapped up in the thrift store. ... We do have plans to reopen the thrift store. It is a temporary restructuring. The key component to us reopening is to find a location that's affordable and in a good populated area of town where people will go and shop and that has good traffic [around] it.
"We have heard the heartfelt cries of the Bartow County residents and how much they enjoy shopping at our thrift store and how meaningful it is to them to provide for their children and family and to be able to get those deals and discounts and we recognize that need. So we are making a pledge that we will do our best to find a location and get established as quickly as possible. We can't make any promises at this time as far as the timeline but we will be working with our advisory board and our thrift store consultant from our headquarters to identify the needs and the targets and have a timeline that we hope to be sharing with the community very soon," she said, adding a future possibility is the Cartersville Corps hosting monthly rummage sales until a new site for a thrift store is pinpointed.
In addition to exercising sound stewardship, the Wilsons also want to exhibit a heart for service and provide quality customer care.
"The Salvation Army was founded under the principle of heart to God and hand to man. And as the leaders of The Salvation Army and all of our staff that in all we do we would have a heart for ministry and that that would be reflected," she said. "And then lastly would be quality customer care and recognizing that from the person that walks in the door to receive food assistance to a child who may come out for one of our youth programs to our customers at the thrift store, whoever it is, without people the ministry of The Salvation Army would not be needed.
"So in all we do we want to have quality customer care. So that when you're served or ministered to by The Salvation Army you have a good feeling and it makes it a place that you want to come back to."
The aforementioned aims also tie into The Salvation Army's overall mission, Lt. Lee Wilson said.
"Talking about the mission -- we'll be saying it on a weekly basis in our church services," he said. "The one thing we at The Salvation Army believe is important for every man, woman and child is to come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior and to walk daily in a way that honors God the Father.
"That's through everything that we do -- having a heart for service, for providing quality customer care and exercising sound stewardship. That is all encompassed into that one -- that we would be the example to be able to get the word out about God our Father and the saving grace through his son to whoever we come in contact with by exercising these aims that we've got."
As the Wilsons settle into their new role with the Cartersville Corps, they look forward to meeting the community and discussing volunteer opportunities.
"We have an open-door policy," she said. "We're excited about being in Bartow County and we're excited about the ministry of The Salvation Army here in Bartow County. There are always ways for people to get involved in the ministry of The Salvation Army, whether that's volunteering to help pass out food boxes to the community, whether it's helping with our character-building programs that we do on Wednesday nights for the young people or whether it's helping sort donations that come in or just getting involved in the varying ministries.
"Seasonal opportunities is what people think about most but there are year-round things that happen here at The Salvation Army. So we'd encourage people to stop by and say, 'Hi,' and ask us how they can get involved in the ministry of The Salvation Army. We'd love to share the story with them."
For more information about the local Salvation Army's services, call 770-387-9955 or visit www.salvationarmycartersville.org.